No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts
As the world faces a global pandemic and so many people, brands and industries are facing financial uncertainty, email marketing and connecting with your subscribers are more important than ever. Even if your industry has gone unscathed, it’s not business as usual for anybody — unless you want to come across as insincere or tone-deaf. The companies that are able to adapt their marketing strategies are the companies that will endure during these changing times.
We asked industry leaders & email marketing experts from Campaign Monitor, Iterable, dotdigital, AWeber, Email On Acid, Holistic Marketing & Kickbox to provide tips to help you adjust your marketing plans, including what you should not be doing as a marketer during times of crisis.
Here’s what they had to say…
Empathize With Your Audience in Times of Crisis
What do you get when you combine a global pandemic with modern communication? A whole heap of email fatigue. The question is: How do you keep your readers engaged when they have an influx of messages to filter through?
The two most important things to remember in times of crisis are your subscribers and their needs. In other words, we don’t need to send COVID-related messages just for the sake of it—or because we’re trying to emulate what other brands are doing. We recently saw a comment stating as much on one of our blog posts about deliverability during the pandemic:
Instead of sending messages just for the sake of it, stick to the following three tips and create messages that are appropriate and relevant.
- Only include genuinely useful content.
If you have something important, useful, or unique to say about COVID-19, then that’s a good reason to communicate that with your audience.
- Make your emails easy to skim.
Most COVID-related messages seem to come in the form of a scary wall of plain text. Especially in times like these, readers may not have the time—or energy—to read through a long message. Whether or not you have to use the plain text approach, highlight key points, make good use of headings, and exclude any unnecessary information, like Lyft does in this message to its customers.
- Keep it concise.
Many crisis messages use technical jargon or unnecessarily complex language. Write messages using ordinary language that your audience can easily understand and quickly digest.
While this situation is new and changing to every marketer around the world, there’s one thing that remains consistent: proper communication. It has never been more important to really dig into your audience and their needs than it is in this time. And with the right messaging and a precise amount of empathy, you can actually build brand affinity in troubling times.
If you’re looking for additional tips, check out the full version of this blog: COVID-19 Emails: Key Considerations and Tips.
Getting Started With Empathy-Driven Emails
In light of COVID-19, many email marketers have changed how they interact with consumers by leading their communications with empathy. To get started with empathy-driven emails, marketers can look to the following principles:
- Acknowledge perspective.
Customers have different values and viewpoints— and marketers have to listen so we learn how to talk with, not at, them. What can we provide our customers that they cannot get on their own at this very moment? Asking this question helps better empathize with your customers’ experiences and distill the message that serves them best.
- Stay out of judgment.
Instead of prescribing what we think is best for our customers, we can learn more by presenting opportunities for them to tell us their preferences. Giving customers a platform to characterize themselves as individuals, such as through preference centers, is how we build human connections and evolve the purpose behind our brands.
- Recognize emotion.
Not all of our customers feel the same way about issues as we do, so make sure that you’re not just projecting your own feelings. It’s our responsibility to consider the wide range of emotions our audiences may be feeling at any time. The more mindful we are of their nuances, the more effectively we can connect with them.
Be Engaging. Be Entertaining. Be Present.
Now more than ever, marketers must ensure the emails they are sending provide value to their recipients. This concept of sending engaging content to recipients who find value in it is not new in email marketing, however following this long-time best practice is of utmost importance.
Your email deliverability will benefit from this, but more importantly, you will be forming a connection – a sense of community – with your recipients that could lead to a stronger or longer-lasting bond than you would have had otherwise.
For some brands, providing value will mean communicating about changes in how they do business with you. For others, it could mean highlighting different types of products or finding unique ways to market an upcoming sale. For others still, it could mean sending nothing but entertaining content to keep them engaged with your brand while you wait for things to return to a more normal state.
Whatever the case, ensure that the messages you are sending are relevant to the folks who are receiving them, and that they provide them with some kind of value. Be engaging, be entertaining, or just be present so they know they are not in this alone.
Adapting During Times of Crisis
As we face daily uncertainty about what’s to come, we need to adapt our email marketing as we’ve adapted our day-to-day routines. Customers’ needs aren’t the same today as they were just a couple of weeks ago. Marketers need to address these new needs.
Keep shoppers informed
People are on the hunt for as information as possible right now. With so much uncertainty, its important brands reassure shoppers by keeping them informed. Any changes that’ll affect customers directly, need to be communicated as quickly as possible. Sending a text message alerting your audience of any changes to your services will greatly increase customer’s trust in your brand.
Ease shoppers’ concerns
With so many of us staying at home and staying safe, we’ve already seen a massive increase in online shopping. Make sure your emails include the informative content that will help convert shoppers. Think about delivery and return policies. Should customers expect longer delivery times but extended returns? Including this information in your marketing emails will address shoppers concerns and remove potential blockages in the path to purchase.
So long as marketers make the conscious effort to meet consumer’s rapidly changing needs, brands will be able to come out of this crisis with engaged and loyal customers.
Compassionate Email Marketing Can Go A Long Way
Email communication has the potential to leave an impact — whether positive or negative — on your target audience and should be a vital part of any crisis plan. Compassionate email marketing can go a long way to show how you’re there for your community and that you genuinely care.
After email marketers address how they’re handling the COVID-19 crisis with their subscribers in a compassionate yet serious manner, it’s best to reevaluate any active email marketing campaigns and adjust frequency, content and promotions as necessary.
And while it is possible to balance business and be mindful of challenges your audience is facing, an easy rule of thumb to keep in mind during times of crisis is communications should attempt to solve a problem for your audience. If your product or service is in high demand, don’t take advantage of the market; be empathetic and make your offering easy to access through discounts or free trials.
Make yourself available for customer questions, or shift to an online offering if you usually conduct business in a physical environment. In fact, if you provide your audience with value, they’ll remember your brand positively beyond times of crisis.
It’s Time To Give Back
We are #InThisTogether. Now is the time to start getting human in your email marketing and focusing on the needs of your subscribers. It’s time to adapt a new strategy. How people experience your brand right now is going to impact how they see you in the future – were you there to help them or are you acting as if everything is normal? Research shows that employees have greater satisfaction and engagement at organizations that have a culture of giving back. I believe the same is true for your subscribers. The more you can give back to them in their time of need, the more satisfied, engaged and champions for your brand.
Be of service. What tools, resources, advice, products can you provide your customers that will help them during a pandemic? How can you better serve them now that they are forced to work remotely? How can you help them find a little respite during this crisis?
These are all questions you should ask yourself as you are developing new email strategies. At Email on Acid, we are giving complimentary subscriptions to organizations in the most critically impacted industries. I encourage you to do something similar and figure out how you can best serve your subscribers.
Have A Good Reason To Send
Email Thought Leader
Email marketers first need to balance the need vs. the want to send email. Many feel the need to send email when in reality they are giving nothing of value or information to the recipient.
They want to be a part of everything when it comes to email but end up just sending to subscribers who don’t care. If your emails are not opened this lack of interaction can can impact deliverability.
The last few weeks I’ve received great informational emails about changes to grocery store operating hours to allow time for grocers to restock food — since we had a run on food — as well as emails asking people not to shop in the first two hours to allow the elderly a safer shopping experience. For me, the past few weeks of food shortages and changes were the most important things to know.
However, on the flip side I’ve also received badly timed and irrelevant emails from tire companies reminding me they were there for me if I needed to fix a flat. Who cares?! I’m not driving now while in lock-down and I’m more worried about the food we might need and the safety of my family here at home.
So, please consider the timing, recipient, and reason you think you need to send an email. Don’t just send to just send. It’s also ok to think about it for a bit to determine if you really needed to send something.
Do I need a COVID-19 statement? What should it say? Should I share it publicly? And if so, how do I communicate it to my customers without sounding insensitive, insincere, or like I’m taking advantage of the situation? Only use the terms COVID-19 in the email if it truly relates to the content.
We are all in this together & we will prevail. Y’all stay safe, y’all stay healthy and y’all stay home.
It’s Time For Brands To Show Their Humanity
My advice is really no different than the advice I normally give. For the best results for both the business and your customers, be customer-focused and helpful. How can you help your customers achieve their objectives?
This advice stands whether everything in the world is business as usual or is enduring through a pandemic. During this crisis, many businesses and individuals are suffering, so this is a time for businesses who are able to — and not unduly suffering themselves — to show their humanity.
I love Woolovers’ approach. It’s just a slight tweak to their regular strategy – but a 100% human approach. I’m not saying that all businesses should do this, far from it, but this was their way of helping, even though it’s clear that they themselves are suffering.
This is a lovely example of the warmth and humanity that is becoming prevent in our communities and will hopefully stay for longer after the pandemic is over.
More No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts Coming Soon
Stay tuned, we’ll be posting more No Bullshit Advice soon. Read our last installment, about the importance of email list cleaning or catch up on the entire series here: No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts.
And as always, feel free to share your thoughts with us on Twitter.
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